We’ve all heard the expression “you get what you pay for.” When it comes to purchasing business equipment – especially if you’re considering something as important as a rugged tablet PC -- any smart CFO will tell you that it’s the total cost of ownership (TCO) that determines what you actually paid.
All too often, hasty or incomplete analysis beforehand can result in short-sighted purchasing decisions. The temptation to save money with a low initial price backfires, as costs to maintain equipment mount and devices don’t last long enough to pay for themselves.
Ruggedness costs more because you get more.
You wouldn’t use golf carts to move merchandise around your warehouse. They don’t have the power, the stamina or the carrying capacity to meet your needs. It’s the same with mobile computers. If you only need light-duty equipment, and those devices will be handled with care at all times, then commercial-grade might suffice.
The mere fact that it’s portable doesn’t make every device the best choice. If your working environment is assuredly – or even occasionally – unforgiving, a rugged tablet PC could very well be more cost-effective.
Commercial grade computers aren’t intended for heavy-duty use or inhospitable environments. On the other hand, a truly rugged tablet computer has been specifically engineered and constructed to meet the toughest specifications, inside and out. Rugged features can include:
Casings made of magnesium, which is dramatically stronger than ABS plastic, to protect against drops and bumping around outdoors or inside vehicles.
Shock-resistant hard drives mounted on rubber, springs or gel that absorbs vibration from moving vehicles and prevents shock-induced failure, the most common problem with mobile computers.
Double-soldered or bridged mother board connections.
Shatter-resistant glass display screens that also resist glare and reflection and are readable in any light. Having to wiggle around a mobile device or shade it with your hand to see the screen wastes time and invites errors.
Extra insulation such as Styrofoam or foam rubber that protects and secures working parts as well as the display screen.
“Intrinsically safe” and Class 1 Div 2 designations guarantee that a rugged tablet computer can be used where hazardous substances or flammable gases are present.
100% sealed casings that exclude moisture, dust and dirt, extreme heat and cold.
Extra-long-life batteries to keep each rugged tablet computer on the job.
A longer warranty, typically three years versus just one. A longer, more substantive warranty indicates higher quality and underscores the manufacturer’s own confidence in their products.
Repairs cost money.
Consumer grade mobile computers aren’t designed for hard use. They break down far more frequently than rugged devices, and their expected lifespan is short. Every time a mobile computer is out of service, one of your employees cannot do their job, sometimes for several days. You’re out not only the direct cost of repairs but the indirect costs of down time -- lost productivity and even lost sales. The annoyance factor may be harder to quantify, but plummeting job satisfaction is a cost you want to avoid.
No company has so much extra cash they can afford to treat equipment as disposable. Many have learned the hard way that initial price is just one consideration when purchasing mobile devices.
If your working environment is less-than-cushy or your people need the versatility of high-performance computing, communications and other integrated features, do the math. You’ll probably find that a rugged tablet computer will not only make your team more productive, it will cost you less in the long run.